Yohana Belinda, Jakarta – Siti was a flight attendant for five years with privately owned airline before eventually settling down to open a clothing store along with her husband in Tangerang, Banten, serving both offline and online customers.
Last year, she started to host live-streaming shopping for her store on the start-up called Social Bread, a platform founded by YouTubers Edho Zell and Lydia Susanti.
Many others have also joined this social commerce trend, with sellers going online with the platform, presenting themselves in live-streaming sessions to better cater to their customers.
For Siti, selling on social commerce presents its own challenges in competing with other sellers in the market. She said the specific time for conducting live shopping also mattered, as it affected views and buyers.
"The optimal live-streaming per session is just two hours. Then you need a break before restarting the live shopping," Siti said.
"It's important for the psychological side of the host. The break is important for the host so they do not get bored with talking continuously."
Meanwhile, Yunita joined the live shopping trend in April 2023 after working in online store administration. She said that she did so because the social commerce trend had been ongoing for a few years.
Previously, she had never sold things in front of a camera, let alone live-streaming, but having a go at the trend she discovered better methods to attract customers.
"Previously we only replied to chat messages, our buyers couldn't see us. But with live shopping, they can see us now and that creates an ambience [to encourage them buy our products]," Yunita said.
Social commerce has become a prominent trend over the past years as an alternative to selling goods online.
According to a report by Global Data, the live-streaming e-commerce market is expected to reach $245.1 billion by 2026, with compound annual growth (CAG) of 32.6 percent during the forecast period.
In Indonesia, the market size of social commerce services is estimated to have reached $8.6 billion last year and is projected to grow 55 percent annually to $86.7 billion in 2028, according to a DSInnovate report last year.
For both Siti and Yunita, discounts play a major role in swaying buyers when selling through social commerce.
"Live shopping does have an impact, especially if there are discounts and promotions. There will be many customers. Goods are always sold in the end," Yunita said.
Siti concurred, explaining that is why people will often see large discounts during live shopping, especially on national online shopping days.
As a seller, she often raises the price first before pulling out some promos to attract buyers, saying "as a store we obviously want to make a profit". She added that even with promos the actual discounts will not be more than 10 percent.
Lydia Susanti, cofounder of Social Bread said on Friday that Indonesian shoppers are easily attracted by discounts or promotions. In some cases, platforms also provide "subsidies" to help sellers gain more traction from customers.
Others include campaign support from platforms, as well as input on sellers' live-streaming.
Despite the discounts, she also said it was important for sellers to adjust their streaming sections according to their target market.
For example, for beauty products targeted at women in their twenties, scheduling live-streams after working hours would have more favorable results.
"Even if you are going on live every day if you don't have good enough content for your customers, you are not going to get anywhere," Lydia said.
Despite the growing trend, the government has responded with some concerns that the live-shopping trend could negatively impact small businesses.
Earlier this month, Cooperatives and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) Minister Teten Masduki questioned social media giant TikTok's expansion into e-commerce for this reason. However, the company has rejected the claim, asserting it is not a threat to small businesses.
Lydia said claims that TikTok, as one of many forms of social commerce, posed a threat to small businesses, was a challenge. She pointed out that many users worried the platform might eventually be banned.
"For the time being, we'll keep doing what we're doing, but if something unexpected happens, such as a ban on live shopping on TikTok, we'll search for alternate platforms," Lydia said.